Friday, October 21, 2011

GameDay Preview: Bears @ Devils

Hershey comes into the season's first 3 in 3 with a few injury concerns.  Kyle Greentree has a broken wrist and is listed as week to week although it seems as though he will miss at least a month.  Ryan Potulny still isn't practicing either.  In addition to that, Michal Neuvirth remains injured for the Capitals meaning that Dany Sabourin (as of now) remains in Washington to back up Tomas Vokoun.  If Neuvy misses much more time I would expect Braden Holtby to get recalled for a game sometime sooner than later.

In response to those injuries forwards Maxime Lacroix and Garrett Mitchell were recalled from South Carolina this week and Philipp Grubauer remained in Hershey.  All three could see the ice this weekend.

Otherwise the Bears season has started out very well.  They are 3-0-1-0 and have scored 18 goals compared to only 15 against.   10 different players have scored at least one goal including Chris Bourque who has 4 goals in his return. 

Considering that Hershey has so many "new" faces this year it is impressive how quickly they have come together and started the season.  Sure the goals allowed should be lower (almost 4 per game right now) but the defense will gel as the season progresses. 

This weekend features 2 games against division opponents and one road game (tonight) against a former division rival. 

The Albany Devils finished last in the East Division last season and no reside in the newly formed Northeast Division.  Their new "home" in the standings has not affected their position in the standings as of yet as they are still in last place with a 1-4-0-0 record.  They have allowed a league worst 22 goals so far while only scoring 11. 

5 of their top 6 scorers from last season return.  Honestly, the roster isn't that much different than it was a year ago.  A couple young forwards are expected to make the next step in their progression while one veteran, Stephane Veilleux, was brought in forth depth.

The defense is also fairly similar to last season's unit.  They did bring in Peter Harrold who hasn't played in the AHL since 2007-08 when he played for the Manchester Monarchs.  In fact, Harrold was a member of the Monarchs team that was swept by the Bears in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.

The goaltending isn't much better.  Jeff Frazee returns after he went 11-15-3 last season.  As of right now he joins forces with rookie Maxime Clermont who hasn't played a professional game yet. He did go 28-10-5 in the QMJHL last season though.  Keith Kinkaid is identified as having played 3 games for the Devils this season going 1-2-0, however, he is not currently listed on their roster.

Last year the Bears and Devils played 6 times while East Division "rivals".  Hershey won all 6 games. 

Players to watch:

LW Chris Bourque (17) - 4 goals in 4 games will raise the expectations a little bit.  He also has 4 assists on the season.
LW Cody Eakin (14) - The rookie is being promoted from 4th line center to 2nd line left wing to take Kyle Greentree's spot in the lineup (at least for now).  Great opportunity for him.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Bourque's numbers are impressive enough but Aucoin also has 8 (2 goals 6 assists) points in 4 games.  2 players on the team averaging 2 points per game...not too bad.

RW Matt Anderson (29) - Led the team in scoring last season with 55 points (23, 32) and is doing it again after 5 games with 2 goals and an assist.
RW Joe Whitney (9) - The rookie had 40 goals and 102 assists during 4 years of college hockey.  And he is listed at only 5'6"...which actually makes him smaller than any Bears player.  That won't happen often this season.
D Alexander Urbom (33) - The big defenseman is a top prospect for the NJ Devils and has started off the season with 3 assists in 5 games.

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